ZeroEnergy Design's Net Positive Farmhouse



I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

So yesterday, just like any other day, I found myself perusing the World Wide Web.  I like to just search things, browse, read, listen, shop.  Well yesterday I was searching for sustainable buildings made by Boston based architects.  I don’t know if you know this, but Boston is a hub for Architects.  They’re everywhere!  In fact, I was almost one of them.  I moved to Boston in 2008 to start my college education at Boston Architectural College.  Didn’t work out.

In my browsing, I came across ZeroEnergy Design’s Net Positive Energy Lincoln Farmhouse.  Not only does this house look great, it is great.  Great for everyone inside and out.  To me, it has this Scandinavian minimalist thing going on.  Remember, I’m coming from an antique and cluttered American perspective.  Rugs on rugs on rugs, but not here.

Ok, there are a couple rugs.  But they're not layered!

Ok, there are a couple rugs.  But they're not layered!

Let’s get down to brass tacks.  Let me pin up why this place is so cool (or not!).  The first thing that caught my attention, is that the house is totally electric.  I read that and was like, “wait what that’s so dirty and chaotic.”  But I got over it quickly.  Throw a couple Tachyon Disks over the fuse box and you should be good to go!  

Being 100% electric isn’t really an issue, because this house uses 70% less energy than a new home built to standard code.  Have you yet deduced why this house is called the “Net Positive Energy” farmhouse?  Because it produces 42% more electricity than it consumes!  I’m wondering if feeding back into the grid, how long this house will take to pay for itself.

One of the reasons this house is so efficient, is that it’s sealed.  You could probably submerge this thing.  Now that I think about it, this place could be the next Noah’s Ark.  Sealed and self sufficient.  I’m not going to get into the details of testing how air tight a building is, but it’s called the Blower Door method and is measured in ACH50, Air Changed per Hour at 50 Pascals.  The 2012 International Conservation Code set 3 ACH50 as the a good target.  This house is one of the tightest in the country at .27 ACH50.  In the case of losing power in the winter, and therefore heat, the house is so well insulated that it will take several days for the house to dip to 60 degrees.  There is one part of this house that’s outside the insulated envelope.  The root cellar!  Yeah, you heard me.  This place has a root cellar!

HVAC is not my area of expertise.  But this place has an “air source heat pump and energy recovery ventilator” and a “heat pump hot water heater.”  The kitchen appliances are conventional electric and Energy Star rated.  A monitoring system is in place, so the me owners can monitor their energy consumption.  The roof is covered with solar panels producing 13.8kW of power.  This house is even equipped to charge an electric car!

Since this is a farmhouse, it’s obligated to at least have a garden.  Well this place collects rain water for later use on landscaping and vegetable gardens!  On the whole, this house uses 60% less water than the federal standard.  I just hope this house isn’t connected to municipal water.  

I’m a huge fan of this house.  There was a lot of thought and attention put into it, as well as great craftsmanship with an eye for sustainability.  I think this is a great example of what we can do.  Let’s give credit where credit is due!

Architecture and Mechanical Design: ZeroEnergy Design

Construction:  Thoughtforms

Landscape Design: Soren Deniord Design Studio

Lighting Design: Lucia Lighting Design